DNR: Bear sightings have become common for Northeast Wisconsin residents

The Brown County Sheriff's Department reports a semi hit this bear on Highway 41 in Suamico early May 28, 2018. (Photo credit: Nick Krueger)

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WLUK) -- From running wild to roadkill, bear sightings are becoming more common across Northeast Wisconsin.

On a bike ride last week in Howard, Rich Palzewic whipped out his phone to shoot a video after realizing he was riding alongside a bear.

“I wasn't quite sure what it was and all of a sudden it started to move, I quickly realized it was a bear,” said Palzewic.


While the video has been viewed nearly 47,000 times and shared more than 600 times on Facebook, DNR Regional Wildlife Biologist Jeff Pritzl says people across Northeast Wisconsin are getting used to seeing bears.

“It was happening once in a while 20 years ago,” Pritzl said. “Ten years ago it got to be where you could almost count on it's going to happen this year somewhere, you just don't know where. Now, again, we don't get as many reports because it's not as novel of an experience.”

You might have seen a dead bear if you recently were driving south on Highway 41, just north of the Sunset Beach Road exit in Suamico. The Brown County Sheriff's Department says a semi hit it early Monday morning.

Obviously bear-vehicle crashes aren't as common as deer-vehicle crashes, so the DNR doesn't have numbers readily available to show the frequency.

Across the state, Pritzl estimates there are a couple hundred bear-vehicle collisions each year.

“It happens every year, I would say something in the neighborhood of a dozen to two dozen times in the greater Green Bay area,” said Pritzl.

Pritzl recommends giving a bear space if you come across one. To avoid that, he advises eliminating any food sources on your property.

Palzewic says his encounter has kept him more aware.

“I've actually gone that route about three or four times since and have not seen it at all, but yeah, I'm keeping my eye out definitely,” said Palzewic.

While April and May are popular times to see bears because of hibernation, the DNR says sightings also typically peek in July. That is mating season.

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